Kik is a Canadian company that has produced a mobile chat application and issued a coin called Kin for use in the application.
Founded in 2009, Kik announced in May 2013 that it had reached a level of 100 million registered users for its eponymous mobile chat application. Prior to that, Kik had raised $32 million in venture capital funding. In 2015 Kik announced that it had received a $50 million dollar investment from Chinese Internet giant Tencent, which valued the company at $1 billion.
Kik launched a public initial coin offering (ICO) for its "Kin" coin in September 2017, which raised about $48 million worth of Ether at then-current prices. Kik users earn Kin by completing tasks like answering surveys. The company created 10 trillion kin tokens and sold one trillion in the ICO.
CoinDesk, an online cryptocurrency industry news service, reported that the ICO fell far short of the goal of about $75 million.. According to a press release issued at the end of the offering period, more than 10,000 individuals from 117 countries bought tokens. Kik CEO Ted Livingston said the broad global participation in the ICO made Kin one of the most-widely held cryptocurrencies in the world.
In late 2018, Kik received a Wells notice from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) about its 2017 ICO. A Wells notice is a notice that the SEC intends to bring an enforcement action against the recipient. Livingston, the CEO, told the Wall Street Journal that Kik had responded. According to Livingston, the SEC believes that Kik sold unregistered securities when it conducted its ICO. Also according to Livingston, the SEC does not allege fraud. Kik reportedly intends to fight the SEC's claim that Kin are securities under U.S. law. If such a case were to go to trial, it might provide the first legal test of the SEC's approach to ICOs as securities offerings.
In June 2019, the SEC filed a lawsuit against Kik for $100 million, alleging that it had violated Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933. Steven Peikin, co-director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement, said that "companies do not face a binary choice between innovation and compliance with federal securities laws" in a press release. Kik's general counsel, Eileen Lyon, said that the SEC's complaints about Kik's ICO makes inaccurate assumptions which “stretch the Howey test well beyond its definition.”
Cryptocurrency Defense Fund
Seemingly frustrated by its dealings with the SEC, Livingston and Patrick Gibbs, a partner at law firm Cooley LLP, announced on May 28, 2019, that they established a crowdfunding page, DefendCrypto.org, to fund a lawsuit against the SEC that they anticipate will ensue as negotiations have broken down. Their goal is to raise five million dollars worth of cryptocurrencies. Livingston believes that the effort against the SEC has broad implications for the entire cryptocurrency industry.
As of the close of business on May 28, 2019, DefendCrypto.org had collected more than $5 million in 19 different cryptocurrencies. The website also indicated that it was supported by Circle, ShapeShift, Messari, Arrington XRP Capital, and Fight for the Future in addition to Kik.
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